Forgetting Children Born of War

Setting the Human Rights Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond

R. Charli Carpenter

Columbia University Press

Forgetting Children Born of War

Google Preview

Pub Date: May 2010

ISBN: 9780231151306

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $55.00£46.00

Pub Date: May 2010

ISBN: 9780231522304

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $54.99£46.00

Forgetting Children Born of War

Setting the Human Rights Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond

R. Charli Carpenter

Columbia University Press

Sexual violence and exploitation occur in many conflict zones, and the children born of such acts face discrimination, stigma, and infanticide. Yet the massive transnational network of organizations working to protect war-affected children has, for two decades, remained curiously silent on the needs of this vulnerable population.

Focusing specifically on the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, R. Charli Carpenter questions the framing of atrocity by human rights organizations and the limitations these narratives impose on their response. She finds that human rights groups set their agendas according to certain grievances-the claims of female rape victims or the complaints of aggrieved minorities, for example-and that these concerns can overshadow the needs of others. Incorporating her research into a host of other conflict zones, Carpenter shows that the social construction of rights claims is contingent upon the social construction of wrongs. According to Carpenter, this pathology prevents the full protection of children born of war.

Excellent, well-documented, thoughtful, and comprehensive, Forgetting Children Born of War challenges the prevailing discourse on human rights and humanitarian intervention.

Alison Brysk, University of California, Irvine

Highlighting an important but overlooked human rights issue, R. Charli Carpenter's impressively researched book teaches much about the basis upon which rights claims are made, accepted, and acted. Her core insight, that rights advocacy is full of conflicts and that activists sometimes have reasons for keeping issues off the international agenda, applies well beyond the case of 'children born of war.'

Clifford Bob, Duquesne University, author of The Marketing of Rebellion: Insurgents, Media, and International Activism

In recent years, scholars of transnational advocacy have made great progress in explaining why some issues become 'hot' while others languish in obscurity. This intriguing study by a leading scholar pushes the envelope one step further, demonstrating that politics among and between activists often shapes an issue's global salience. R. Charli Carpenter argues that children born of rape never received the attention they deserved because of disputes among international activists over how to 'sell' the issue. By focusing on the complexities and nuances of victimhood, Carpenter opens up new and exciting analytical terrain.

James Ron, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University

Forgetting Children Born of War is an intellectually sophisticated and critical examination of the ways in which children born of war have been neglected in global discourses on children and armed conflict and by human rights advocacy organizations. The book deftly navigates the complexity of children's human rights in international relations in a way that represents a rare blend of intellectual rigor and deep compassion for its subjects, without manipulating the emotionalism of the topic. R. Charli Carpenter's book provides both a rich and detailed empirical analysis of children born of war and makes significant theoretical contributions to international relations, especially to constructivist international relations theorizing. It should be read widely by scholars and practitioners.

Debra L. DeLaet, Drake University
Web Features:

About the Author

R. Charli Carpenter is assistant professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, specializing in international relations, gender and political violence, transnational advocacy networks, human rights, and the laws of war. She is the author of Innocent Women and Children: Gender, Norms, and the Protection of Civilians and editor of Born of War: Protecting Children of Sexual Violence Survivors in Conflict Zones. Her blog posts can be read at Duck Of Minerva, Current Intelligence, and Lawyers, Guns, and Money.